You know how we’ve been trying to guess what kind of lineup Mauricio Pochettino might employ against Manchester United on Monday? Well, maybe just forget about all of that. In recent comments to the press, Pochettino hinted that he may not be done tinkering with his lineup as he prepares his squad to go into Old Trafford to face a very talented Manchester United squad, albeit one in disarray.
“The starting XI against Fulham was the best starting XI to win the game. I am going to consider the best starting XI for the next game and maybe make a few changes too.
”This season is a challenge, a completely different challenge for us, because it’s only three weeks that the players arriving from the World Cup are in training. Always you need six or seven weeks to start to compete in a normal season. That is why you need to be careful how they react after the effort of 90 minutes.
”I am going to do some changes, some names – sometimes I keep this formation, or we are going to play with different formation, but we still have a few days to take the best decision for the team.”
What that means in terms of who we’ll see line up against the Red Devils in the “Theatre of Dreams” is anyone’s guess. Harry Winks and Erik Lamela could get a start as both are now apparently back and ready for minutes after returning from injury. They, along with fullbacks Serge Aurier and Danny Rose, would be the most logical players to move into the starting lineup, if Poch is going to rotate. Victor Wanyama is also back in full training as of last week, though it’s hard to imagine Pochettino throwing him back into the fire so quickly.
And of course, there’s also the small matter of Hugo Lloris. Poch has not indicated how, or even if, he plans to use his club captain, or even if he still IS captain after his arrest for driving under the influence last week.
Poch went on to say that the willingness to rotate is due to an abundance of caution, especially with his nine World Cup semifinalists.
“I am not worried. Of course we expect to try to help them in the best way, to keep everyone fit during the 10 months. But you know that is so difficult, because it’s so tough, the year here in England, with four competitions.
”We were talking a lot with the staff, coaching staff, medical staff, everything, to take the best decision. Now, more than ever, we need to be clever in how we manage the players. We cannot consider them all at the same level – it’s more individual than before.
”I think our fans, you need to expect that maybe we are going to play with different starting XI, change a lot, maybe go from one system to another in the first few months the competition is going to be tougher and we need to be sure that in our opinion and knowledge we don’t take risks with the players.”
Pochettino can be cagy with the media when it comes to talking about tactics and lineups, but he’s shown an unusual willingness to adjust and be flexible. That may have to do with confidence in his team, or just a newfound ability to tinker. We’ll find out when Spurs take the pitch on Monday night.